Last month I went to watch Crimson Peak, the new Gothic Del Toro’s film. I was very excited because I love this Mexican director whose masterpieces – The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Laberynth – have adressed Spain’s dark past brilliantly.
There are two things I enjoyed a lot in this film…
A. The house. I don’t mind it’s an impossible place from an arquitect’s point of view, this is a true Gothic story… it cannot be just real and ordinary. And its decadence reminded me – weirdly enough – to the place where I am currently living.
B. The ghots. Well, you would think that goshts are these ethereal creatures but with Del Toro they turn into fleshy monsters that one can almost smell rotting.
Crimson Peak narrates the nightmare that young writer Edith – named after Edith Warthon, actually – has to face when she marries an attractive English man and has to survive in his haunted mansion – the Crimson Peak from the title. One can find all the Gothic tropes present in the plot – perhaps the accumulation of these made the whole story less intense.
There is something that I found quite funny, though. The house darkest secrets are uncovered… by a holiday postcard. Well, not really a postcard, but by a letter coming from Italy. If you are living in a country different from your own you’re familiar with all that stuff: the skype calls at weird hours, receiving photos from your loved ones in your phone – yep, I’m delighted when my friends send me photos of sunny beaches in November when I’m ere enjoying three never-ending stormy weeks in Lancaster… Ah, and the packages! These are cool, you feel as when you were a kid and it was your birthday. They are usually full of stuff that you didn’t care much about when you were living in your country but now you find it extremely valuable. I’m my case these are sugus – litlle fruit-flavoured candies one can lick endlessly. What are yours?
And of coure, the letters. Do you still recieve letters? I do, and I still enjoy writing them. Seeing the handwriting of someone you like but lives a sea away feels so intimate. And knowing they put all the effort to sit and gather time to write to you is such a proof of love, if you ask me.
It’s one of these letters that Edith recieves, directly from Milan – Italy. In the film we can even read the very first lines – Mia cara Enola, adesso siamo molto preoccupati… These are in perfect Italian – confirmed by an Italian friend. Bravo, Del Toro, because believe it or not, it’s so common to find films in which no one bothered about the accuracy of languages other than English.
The letter comes from Milan. Why Milan? Well, this city in the North of Italy is famous for its Gothic cathedral. Italy was also the land some Romantic, tortured poets – Lord Byron and Shelley among others – liked to visit. And of course, the so called very first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, is also set in Italy. A coincidence?
From all the viwes Thomas has had, Enola is the only foreign one – the others came from London and Edinburgh. She’s the smartest one, since she managed to record what happened to her with her gramophone and also she’s the ghost that has been trying to warn Edith of what is going to be her fate if she stays in Crimson Peak. Perhaps because Enola knows how lonely – and vulnerable – one can feel in a country different than their own.
When I came out from watching this film I was disappointed, but after writing the article I want to watch it again. The visual part is so outstanding that it might make me forget its other flaws. What do you think? Have you watched it? Have you ever been visited by Italian ghosts?